Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the blight of country’s dwindling number of girls on Thursday, launching ‘Beti Bachchao Beti Padhao’ campaign to address the problem the United Nations has said amounts to a national emergency.
“In our neighbourhood, girls are commonly killed in their mothers’ wombs and we don’t feel the pain,” Modi said in a speech in the northern state of Haryana. “We don’t have a right to kill our daughters,” he said.
Modi presents Sukanya Samriddhi account pass-book to a girl during its launch at Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme in Panipat on Thursday.
The “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign is aimed at improving India’s child sex ratio – the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys – and gender equality through access to education. India’s child sex ratio dropped from 964 in 1971 to a low of 918 in 2011, according to U.N. data.
Between 2001 and 2011, the decline was seen in more than two-thirds of the districts in the nation. A 2011 study published in the British medical journal the Lancet found that as many as 12 million Indian girls may have been selectively aborted between 1980 and 2010. This trend, in a deeply patriarchal society where daughters can be seen as a financial liability, has led to an uptick in crimes including rape, trafficking and the emergence of “wife-sharing” in villages where the sex ratio is low, experts say.
“For every 1,000 male child births, there should be 1,000 girl child births,” Modi said on Thursday, adding that placing importance on sons above daughters is “a psychological illness of the entire country”. The campaign will be initially implemented in the 100 districts, including 12 in Haryana, across country where sex ratio is rather poor.